Houston stays optimistic for future

Although its volumes from China have dropped, growth out of the Middle East and Southeast Asia has helped Houston realise nearly a 7 per cent jump in international cargo.

Optimism is high, yet guarded, at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Houston where troubling economic times in the airline industry is shifting carrier service everywhere.

But according to Genaro Pena, Houston Airport System (HAS) marketing director, Houston as a city is attracting more business from Asia and the Middle East than any other market in all of the Americas. That’s because Houston is not only an oil town; it’s home to numerous headquarters, manufacturing and operational activities.

“All of these elements are helping us with market growth, particularly in the Middle East and Southeast Asia where oil, engineering, and construction industries are strong,” Pena says.

Yet the economic downturn, currency devaluations, high fuel prices, and exchange rate issues, places Houston in a very unusual position currently. “This is one of the most unusual markets we’ve ever seen,” he exclaims. “The high fuel prices benefi ts Houston, but hurts the airlines.”

Cargo commitments

Consequently, domestic cargo volumes are flat, but international volumes strong. In fact, for the first six months of 2008, international air cargo shipments increased by 6.7 per cent – largely due to the addition of new services by Singapore Airlines and Emirates earlier this year.